My 1st grade teachers asked if I could piggy bank on their Hungry Caterpillar reading with an art project that would align. Now normally, simple alignments like that don’t always excite me because there isn’t true integration going on – just a repeat of ideas. Normally we collaborate much more to develop a back and forth action between the classroom and the art room. That said, I think perhaps my first grade teachers knew I had a special place in my heart for Eric Carle’s work.
See, when I was little, I fell in love with “The Very Busy Spider”, one of his other famous works. My mother encouraged my sister and I to write him about how much we liked his books. And just like Marz Jr did for my third graders, my sister and I received a personally addressed and signed postcard from Eric Carle saying to stay creative and keep reading. It was like the absolute highlight of my life.
So have I always wanted to do an Eric Carle project? Yes. Could I do it in Middle School? I could’ve but well, I don’t know if the books would’ve entertained my 8th graders as much as they did my 1st graders. I was thrilled to accept the challenge and found that this would be a great way to talk with my 1st graders about colors mixing, textures, and collage art.
To start, I had students tell me about the story – what they remembered. We then studied his artwork and students and I gathered opinions about how his artwork was different. It was clear the students saw how his paper wasn’t just one plain color but a mixture of textures and colors. From there, we began to work on the body of our hungry caterpillars.
Students used yellow, yellow-green, and green tissue paper to create a collage of color on top of a yellow piece of construction paper. I used watered down Mod Podge to help the tissue paper. I watered it down so that the colors would be more willing to spread together. In my demo, I made sure students understood to put down a dab of the mixture to have the tissue stick to a spot and then showed them how to brush over the entire piece of tissue so it was covered. We soon established that if you could see the white of the mod podge, that was good because it had some stickiness to it and would dry clear. Some might ask why I didn’t just do tissue paper painting (not gluing) but I wanted students to have the tissue stick for this round of detail so that they could concentrate on how the colors mixed together. It was very quickly found that students recognized how the three colors were near each other in the rainbow and that’s why they mixed well.
Not that I don’t think all my projects aren’t the most exciting things (haha), but my first graders LOVED this step in the project. When I say loved, I had one girl nearly have an accident in class because she didn’t want to stop collaging her tissue paper together. Now, that’s dedication.
Which brings me to Part 2 (which will happen this week), where students will use Reds and Orange tissue paper to create the paper needed for the face of our caterpillar…and this will be when students experience tissue paper painting! I can’t wait to share it with you because I am positive the students will be thrilled by it!